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Let's Talk Stress

Though it was a long time ago that I saw Gone With The Wind, I have a vivid picture of Scarlett O'Hara, standing in a doorway looking tense and worried. I thought the poor woman. She lost her child, her land, her money. The times were changing. Her husband, who she loved, had left her. This very beautiful woman, seemed old and drawn. She looks over the land, which is no longer fertile and a look of hope comes into her eyes and she says, "Tomorrow is another day." At the time I saw this movie, I had not yet experienced the trials and tribulations of the adult world. I thought I had a lot of stress at the time. However, looking back on those childhood and teen years, I realize that it was all just a rehearsal for the years I was to spend coping with the adult world.

"Whenever I need to 'get away,' I just get away in my mind, I go to my imaginary spot, where the beach is perfect and the water is perfect and the weather is perfect. The only bad thing there are the flies. They're terrible"

There you are. You've left home to seek your own way. No more parental guidance. No one telling you what to do. No one giving you unsolicited advice. You don't have to clean your room or do your homework. You don't have to tell anyone where you're going or who you're going with. Ah! Life is perfect. Well almost. What about money? What about a place to live? What about relationships? And these are just a few of the house flies we all deal with. How about those big horse flies just waiting to take a piece of your skin? Life is fatal. We have to worry about politics, war, discrimination. We have to wonder what to do about our environment. We have to deal with deaths of people we love. We have to deal with varying forms of discrimination and prejudice. We have to worry about children. We have to worry about the elderly. How do we mere mortals cope?

I can remember some of the childhood lessons such as take a deep breath, count to ten. How about putting it down and going back to it later when you're more relaxed. As we get older, we develop various methods to deal with anxiety and frustration. We often try to suppress our stressful feelings, but this often does not work. Sometimes we just have to see our stress through. Some of the answers we come up with are simple. Need money! Get a job! Well what job? Got a job! The boss is a jerk! Not enough money! How much money? Can't afford the rent! Better move into another situation. Get a roommate! Your roommate is a worse slob than you! Move again! Feel lonely? Make a friend! Feel horny? Find a lover! Worry about AIDS! Be abused! Become abusive! Want a family? Get pregnant! Need food for your children? Work for food! Beg for food! Steal for food! Eat out of garbage cans! Want adventure? Join the army! Lose a leg! Lose and arm! Lose your buddy! Oh boy, now what? Well maybe it wa sn't so simple.

"I hope some animal never bores a hole in my head and lays its eggs in my brain, because later you might think you're having a good idea but it's just eggs hatching."

So with all the churning in your mind, trying to figure out how to get out of this loop of anxiety and frustration, you can get so depressed that next thing you know, your sitting in a corner, head in hands, crying your heart out. Well a good cry can be helpful. But where do you go from there? There's a song that says. "Pick yourself up, brush yourself off and start all over again."

"You know one thing that will really make a woman mad? Just run up an kick her in the butt. (P.S. This also works with men.)

When I first started pumping iron, I had been working in a restaurant as an in house bookkeeper. I liked my job. It was easy. Some of it was even interesting. For the most part the people around me were hard working affable people. This job came to a sudden end. A kitchen manager became increasingly verbally abusive. When word did not get a reaction out of me (sticks and stone etc.) he physically attacked me. One thing led to another and since in a restaurant a bookkeeper was a lot easier to replace than a cook, I lost my job. I was lucky however. With a supporting family and other means of income, I was not up against a wall as I could have been. However, it made me feel powerless and depressed. I continued to lift weights and discovered another bonus to exercise, besides the physical power and prowess I was attaining. When I would come into the gym, I would feel uptight and often unhappy. I would be thinking about the abuse I had suffered and anger and frustration welled up in me. As I started my lifting routine, I notice the tension draining out of my mind. I could concentrate on pushing a barbell and in so doing would push all my unhappy thoughts out of me. A few months later, when I started kickboxing, I could put all my anger and anxiety into the bag I was punching. I learned a new way of dealing with a stressful situation.

Exercise, whether it be lifting, skating, dancing, running or just taking a walk somewhere pleasant helps you feel strong and capable. Exercise can help you reduce stress in several ways:

A good exercise program will also teach you how to visualize the muscle group you are working on. This visualization can be applied to dealing with stress. Being able to clear your mind and concentrate on what is bothering you will make it easier to deal with a stressful problem. It will enhance your problem solving techniques. Along with visualization there are many forms of meditation. Yoga breathing can increase oxygen flow to the brain. There is a type of Hatha yoga called Kripalu that has a flowing style that focuses on quieting the mind and body. Yoga is a good way for some to slow down a racing mind. Meditation and visualization combined with exercise affirms the essence of unity in each of us. Learning to accept the initial chaos and discomfort of stress and then dealing with it is a prescription to successful mental and physical health.

"I hope that someday we will be able to put away our fears and prejudices and just laugh at people."

One more piece in the formula for relieving stress - Laughter.

Shedding-by Lois Harris

My skin scared me. It feels tight.
I envy the snake who sheds his. Mine
binds me in limited space.
I circle, move more slowly,less,
a running-down top.

taking three deep breaths I
soar make
spirals that sweep
add more space
am alive

For more back talk please feel free to contact me:
gypsy@dreamagic.com (Gypsy)

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